NHL Rumor Mill – October 10, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – October 10, 2022

The Maple Leafs make Wayne Simmonds available in the trade market plus the Jets enter what could be a consequential season. Check out the details in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LEAFS SHOPPING SIMMONDS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported the Toronto Maple Leafs are making Wayne Simmonds available in the trade market. The return is not as important as “doing right by the player.” Friedman indicated the 34-year-old winger is in good health and very much hopes to play this season.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds (NHL Images).

Simmonds is in the final season of a two-year contract with an annual average salary of $900K, though in actual salary he’ll make $1.050 million this season. He also carries a 10-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds was once among the best two-way forwards in the game. However, his performance has been in decline in recent seasons. He lost his job to Zach Aston-Reese, who signed a one-year, $840K contract yesterday with the Leafs.

Simmonds could have value for a club seeking affordable leadership, experience and toughness in their lineup. The Leafs placed him on waivers yesterday but their willingness to trade him indicates they’re expecting he’ll go unclaimed today.

So why would a team trade for Simmonds when they could’ve plucked him off waivers for nothing? Perhaps an interested club sitting high up in the waiver order prefers to save that spot for a better option. Maybe there’s a team that’s also looking to offload a player via trade. There could be a team hoping to squeeze an extra asset from the cap-strapped Leafs to take Simmonds off their hands.

JETS FACING A CONSEQUENTIAL SEASON

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen agreed with a reader that the Winnipeg Jets face a “make-or-break” season. Changes to their roster core could be coming next summer if they miss the playoffs again or make another first-round exit.

Former captain Blake Wheeler, center Mark Scheifele and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck could be part of that roster shakeup. Each is slated to become unrestricted free agents in 2024. Rosen suggested management could try to get ahead of things by trading them, especially if Pierre-Luc Dubois declines to sign a long-term extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is a restricted free agent next summer who will be a year away from UFA eligibility if he doesn’t sign a long-term deal.

I agree with Rosen that it could be time for a major roster shakeup if the Jets stumble again this season. They’ve been slowly declining since reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2018. It could be time to move out some of the veterans and instead build around players like Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers and Dubois if he stays for the long term.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2022

The Jets strip Blake Wheeler of his captaincy, the Sharks reach a settlement with Evander Kane regarding his contract termination, the latest on David Pastrnak’s contract status, the date for the 2023 trade deadline is revealed, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets announced Friday they have stripped the captaincy from Blake Wheeler. Several players will instead wear the “A” as alternate captains for 2022-23, though they have yet to be determined. The club called the move “leadership restructuring”.

Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler (NHL Images)

Wheeler said he knew the move was coming as he had been informed beforehand during his first conversation with new head coach Rick Bowness. According to Bowness, this was in line with the new coaching staff taking over and the intention to change the way the Jets play the game.

Bowness also denied that Wheeler was standing in the way of younger Jets growing into leadership roles. He insisted that he wants to have everyone working together as a team toward the same goal.

Wheeler said he was grateful for the opportunity to be the Jets captain but insisted he’ll still be a leader on this team. As for trade talk that surfaced about him during the offseason, he said he couldn’t give a straight answer about it because he doesn’t make those decisions. “I’m here and I’m committed to this team and motivated to have a great season.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move shocked Jets center Mark Scheifele, who questioned the timing of the announcement while claiming Wheeler has the full support of his teammates. It’ll be interesting to see if Scheifele will be among the alternate captains for the coming season considering he was part of the leadership core of last season’s squad.

Jets beat writer Murat Ates of The Athletic believes it would’ve been better for Wheeler had they traded him during the summer. However, he admitted moving a 36-year-old winger carrying an annual average value of $8.25 million through 2023-24 was a tough sell.

This isn’t the first time a team has removed the captaincy from a popular star. In 2009, the San Jose Sharks did the same thing to Patrick Marleau and again in 2014 with Joe Thornton.

Both instances gave rise to trade speculation and talk of undermining the club’s performance. Instead, both players stayed put and the Sharks’ play didn’t suffer other than missing the playoffs in 2014-15 only to rebound and reach the Stanley Cup Final the following year.

Critics blamed the Jets’ leadership for the team’s inconsistent effort in 2021-22, claiming the dressing room was divided. This decision will motivate this club into a bounce-back performance following last season’s disappointing effort or it will make matters worse.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Sharks, they reached an agreement with Evander Kane on a settlement related to his contract termination in January.

Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported Kane will receive a one-time payment from the Sharks and the cap penalty will be applied to last season’s salary cap. They finished last season just under $5 million beneath the cap. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicated Kane’s original contract was worth $19 million over the next three seasons. His current deal with the Edmonton Oilers is worth $16.5 million over the same period. The settlement would offset the difference.

In other words, the Sharks will pay Kane $2.5-million annually from 2022-23 to 2024-25 without incurring any salary-cap penalties going forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will give the Sharks the cap relief they were counting on when they terminated Kane’s contract without having to go through an arbiter to settle the issue. That procedure might not have gone in their favor and could’ve created a big cap headache for them.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: David Pastrnak remains hopeful that he and the Bruins can reach an agreement on a contract extension at some point during the upcoming season. The 26-year-old winger is in the final season of a six-year, $40 million deal and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Pastrnak indicated his priority is staying in Boston. He cited how happy he and his family were living there and is putting his focus on helping the team win this season. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Pastrnak’s agent and Bruins management are in discussions but there’s nothing close yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pastrnak is among the NHL’s elite scorers. He could receive over $10 million annually on a long-term deal in next summer’s free-agent market. Perhaps he’ll accept a little less than that ($9.5 million) if the Bruins offer up an eight-year deal as the most he’ll get on the open market is seven years. Either way, he’s going to make big money on his next contract.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the 2022-23 NHL Trade Deadline will be Friday, March 3, 2023, at 3 pm ET. The 2023 NHL Draft will be held on June 28-29 in Nashville while the annual free agent market returns to July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t recall the last time the NHL Trade Deadline was on a Friday. It’s usually held on a Monday or Tuesday.

I didn’t miss the annual free-agent frenzy on Canada Day. It was nice to spend the past couple of years quietly enjoying that day with my family in my backyard.

LeBrun also reported the Carolina Hurricanes quietly signed general manager Don Waddell to a new contract over the summer.

SPORTSNET: Duncan Keith has joined the Edmonton Oilers in a player development role. The former NHL defenseman (and future Hall-of-Famer) retired at the end of 2021-22 after 17 seasons.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2022

Could the Jets have traded Mark Scheifele if they had signed Pierre-Luc Dubois to a long-term contract? Did they attempt to move Blake Wheeler? Find out plus the latest on Jake Virtanen in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST JETS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Murat Ates reported earlier this week that “there is a chance” the Winnipeg Jets would’ve shopped Mark Scheifele if they could’ve re-signed Pierre-Luc Dubois to a long-term contract.

Dubois, 24, was a restricted free agent earlier this summer with arbitration rights. He agreed to accept a one-year, $6 million offer from the Jets.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

Ates observed Scheifele “looked disengaged defensively” and “sounded deeply frustrated” by season’s end. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in 2024 and will be 31 by that point. Dubois is also eligible to become a UFA in 2024.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois became a fixture in the rumor mill for several weeks earlier in the offseason after his agent suggested his client might one day hope to join his hometown Montreal Canadiens. Dubois also attended the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal back in July, sparking speculation suggesting he was going to be traded to the Canadiens but the deal fell through.

Dubois denied all of this in the press conference on July 25 announcing his new one-year contract, stressing that if he wanted out of Winnipeg he would’ve asked for a trade but that thought never crossed his mind. His name hasn’t surfaced in the rumor mill since then but it’s probably only a matter of time if the Jets struggle again this season.

Scheifele downplayed his remarks several weeks following the end of the regular season as did general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. Perhaps playing under new head coach Rick Bowness will provide Scheifele with the spark that seemed to be missing last season. Another sub-par effort on his part, however, will bring the trade rumors roaring back.

Meanwhile, Ates said it was his understanding the Jets looked into trading Blake Wheeler. However, his $8.25 million cap hit through 2023-24 proved too cumbersome to move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler is another forward worth watching under Bowness’ coaching this season. The 36-year-old Jets captain struggled with consistency last season and is at the stage in his career where a decline in skills is inevitable.

His age as much as his hefty cap hit makes him very tough to move in the trade market. The Jets would have to retain a big chunk of his contract to make him more enticing to rival clubs.

UPDATE ON JAKE VIRTANEN

YAHOO! SPORTS: Thomas Hall cited Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer reporting the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals are believed to have expressed an interest in signing Jake Virtanen to a professional tryout offer.

Virtanen, 26, spent six seasons with the Vancouver Canucks from 2015-16 to 2020-21 until bought out of his contract after he was accused of sexual assault. He spent last season in the KHL and in July was found not guilty in a British Columbia court.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Virtanen’s personal issues aside, I wonder why there are NHL teams interested in his services? He was a disappointment as a Canuck and managed just 16 points in 36 games in the KHL.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2022

The NHL and NHLPA release their COVID protocol for 2022-23, Wayne Gretzky has been hit with a $10 million lawsuit, Jets center Mark Scheifele clarifies his end-of-season comments and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The NHL and NHLPA released their COVID-19 protocol for 2022-23. There’s little change from last season’s protocol.

Testing will only happen for asymptomatic players and those crossing the Canada-US border. Those who test positive must isolate for five days if asymptomatic and 10 days if experiencing symptoms. Unvaccinated players remain unable to cross the border.

The NHL can postpone, reschedule or cancel games and events due to a COVD-19 outbreak if it poses a health risk to players and others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi and Edmonton Oilers forward Josh Archibald were the only two unvaccinated NHL players by the end of last season. Archibald, now with the Pittsburgh Penguins, received a medical exemption in May. The travel restriction for the coming season would only apply to Bertuzzi unless he gets vaccinated or receives a medical exemption.

NEW YORK POST: cites TMZ reporting Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky has been hit with a $10 million lawsuit accusing him of lying about losing 35 pounds after using a weight-loss gum for two months.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele downplayed speculation about his future based on his end-of-season comments in May. He pointed out that he prefaced those remarks by professing his love of playing in Winnipeg and his desire to remain with the Jets. Scheifele claims his comment about thinking about his career and what was best for him after the club missed the playoffs was misconstrued by the media.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

I was confident I was coming back until I saw all the media headlines and then all of a sudden it’s I’m getting traded and who knows where I’m going and all that stuff,” said Scheifele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff played down Scheifele’s comments last spring. He said the exit interview between the two went well, dismissing Scheifele’s remarks as an emotional reaction to missing the playoffs.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl are progressing well recovering from injuries suffered during the 2022 playoffs. Both are currently working out and Woodcroft expects they’ll be ready for training camp next summer.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed Jack Johnson to a one-year contract worth $950K. The 35-year-old defenseman played for the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche last season, appearing in 74 regular-season games and 13 playoff contests.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former NHL forward Cedric Paquette has signed a one-year contract with KHL club Dinamo Minsk in Belarus.

CAP FRIENDLY: indicates Derek Stepan has signed a professional tryout offer with the Carolina Hurricanes.

SALTWIRE: One of the two arenas at Summerside’s Credit Union Place was named in honor of New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Gallant for this well-deserved honor by his hometown. Gallant is among the best-known hockey men from Prince Edward Island. He started his playing career in Summerside’s minor hockey program and went on to play 11 seasons in the NHL from 1984-85 to 1994-95.

Since 2014-15, Gallant has become one of the league’s top coaches. He won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2017-18 and guided the Vegas Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. He took over behind the Rangers’ bench last season.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 10, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 10, 2022

A look at Daily Faceoff’s top offseason trade targets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

DAILY FACEOFF: Alex DeBrincat tops Frank Seravalli’s list of this summer’s top-25 trade targets. He considers it a question of “when”, not “if” the Chicago Blackhawks trade the 24-year-old left winger. Seravalli believes he’d be their best trade chip to stockpile futures for their rebuilding process. It will also cost them $9 million to qualify his rights at the end of next season.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis believes Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson could seek a return comparable to the two first-round picks and two NHL players he got from the Tampa Bay Lightning for Brandon Hagel. A high first-round pick and/or an A-level prospect would have to be a priority. He suggested the New Jersey Devils could be worth watching as they’re willing to part with their first-round pick (second overall) in this year’s draft.

Whoever pursues DeBrincat must be prepared to pony up big bucks to re-sign him after next season. He’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’ll also be a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun, Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller and the Devils’ second-overall draft pick sit Nos. 2 through 5 on Seravalli’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala, Chychrun and Miller have been fixtures in this year’s rumor mill. Seravalli thinks Fiala could be a good fit with the Devils alongside Swiss countryman Nico Hischier. The Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders have also been linked to Fiala.

The Coyotes’ expensive asking price for Chychrun remains a sticking point. The Canucks are expected to try and sign Miller to a contract extension this summer but could end up shopping him if that’s not possible.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo, Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie, Devils forward Pavel Zacha and Nashville Predators defenseman Philippe Myers come in at Nos. 6 through 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo enjoyed a bounce-back performance this season but the Hurricanes might end up shopping him if they can’t re-sign him. Seravalli said Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek quietly floated Gibson’s name before the trade deadline. However, his contract could be difficult to move. He carries a $6.4 million annual salary cap hit through 2026-27 with a 10-team no-trade clause.

Barrie could be shopped by the Oilers to free up cap room for other moves. Seravalli suggests Zacha, a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, could be used as a trade chip by the Devils to bring in help elsewhere in their lineup. He also thinks Myers could be useful for a cap-strapped team to acquire and buy out because of the way his deal is backloaded.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry, Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner John Marino, Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov, Vegas Golden Knights winger Evgenii Dadonov and either Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi or Kailer Yamamoto come in at Nos. 11 to 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cap-strapped Canadiens tried to fulfill Petry’s trade request before the trade deadline and could shop him this summer to free up cap room. Seravalli suggested he could be a solid backup plan for the Penguins if Kris Letang departs via free agency. He’s also been linked to the Dallas Stars. However, the three years left on his deal at $6.25 million could be a stumbling block.

Marino, Varlamov and Dadonov would also be cost-cutting trade candidates. There’s speculation the Canucks could be interested in Marino. Varlamov’s 16-team no-trade clause could complicate attempts to move him. The Golden Knights unsuccessfully attempted to move Dadonov before the trade deadline. They will likely try again this summer.

Seravalli believes the Oilers’ limited cap space could force GM Ken Holland to choose between Puljujarvi and Yamamoto. Both are restricted free agents with arbitration rights.

Florida Panthers winger Patric Hornqvist, Seattle Kraken defenseman Carson Soucy, Canucks forwards Tanner Pearson and Jason Dickinson, Detroit Red Wings forward Filip Zadina, and the contracts of Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom and Canadiens blueliner Shea Weber are shoehorned into Nos. 16 through 21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers need to free up cap space and Hornqvist has only a year left on his contract. Seravalli believes GM Bill Zito will be able to find a taker for the veteran forward as he did with Anton Stralman and Brett Connolly last season.

Seravalli doesn’t see any push by the Kraken to move Soucy but could listen to offers if they won’t re-sign him after next season. Pearson and Dickinson would be salary-dumping moves by the Canucks. Zadina might need a fresh start after struggling with the Red Wings.

Klefbom and Weber are on permanent long-term injury reserve. Seravalli points out that the Oilers and Canadiens would like to move those contracts as having them on LTIR prevents them from accruing cap space during the season.

There’s an assumption the Canadiens will try again to peddle Weber’s contract to the Arizona Coyotes after a rumored deal fell apart before the trade deadline. He carries a $7.857 million annual cap hit for four more seasons but will be paid just $6 million total in actual salary over that period.

Montreal Hockey Now’s Marco D’Amico explains that would allow the Coyotes’ ownership to save millions in payroll, especially as they’ll be playing in a tiny university arena over the next three or four years while awaiting construction of their new arena. However, they could insist on draft picks in the 2023 and 2025 drafts be included in the deal if they’re still willing to take on Weber’s contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Justin Holl, Hurricanes blueliner Ethan Bear, Canadiens winger Josh Anderson and Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele round up the remainder of the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like so many on this list, Holl would be moved in an effort to trim payroll. Bear, meanwhile, fell out of favor in Carolina and was a healthy scratch in the playoffs. I don’t see the Canadiens shopping Anderson though it wouldn’t hurt the rebuilding club to at least listen to trade offers.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff last week indicated he expected Scheifele to be back next season. Seravalli acknowledged moving him probably isn’t high on Cheveldayoff’s list and considers it difficult for the Jets to get equal value in return.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2022

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff expects Mark Scheifele to return next season, an update on Vincent Trocheck plus the latest collection of Capitals speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CHEVELDAYOFF DOESN’T EXPECT TO TRADE SCHEIFELE

NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger reports Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff expects Mark Scheifele will return with the club next season. The 29-year-old center made headlines in the Winnipeg media last month when he seemed to question his future with the club after missing the 2022 postseason.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

Cheveldayoff said his exit interview with Scheifele went well, chalking up the center’s comments to the emotion of missing the playoffs. The long-time Jets forward has two years remaining on his contract.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Jets are better off retaining Scheifele than attempting to trade him. He cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on May 7 that the center hadn’t asked management to move him.

Despite a decline in Scheifele’s numbers over the past four seasons, O’Brien still believes it’s worthwhile retaining him for at least the coming season. His performance could improve under a new coach. If the Jets need to clear some cap space. O’Brien suggested moving a defenseman such as Nate Schmidt or Brenden Dillon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets wouldn’t have any problem finding trade partners to take Scheifele off their hands. He’d be much easier to move than Schmidt or Dillon.

Most of the calls for a Scheifele trade were based on the Jets’ need to change a team culture that has eroded since their franchise-best 2017-18 season. Cheveldayoff could be betting on a new bench boss addressing that issue. Former New York Islanders coach (and Manitoba native) Barry Trotz recently interviewed with the Jets and could be just what’s required to reverse their fortunes.

If the problems persist next season, however, the calls for Scheifele (and perhaps other core players) will grow louder. Cheveldayoff might not have much choice by that point. Scheifele could force the issue by calling for a trade.

WILL TROCHECK RE-SIGN WITH THE HURRICANES?

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman reported re-signing with the Carolina Hurricanes remains an option for Vincent Trocheck. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

The Hurricanes, however, might not be the best financial choice. Friedman said he’d heard the club made an offer to extend Trocheck but it didn’t get done. He pointed out that Hurricanes’ management rarely deviates from their view of a player’s value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trocheck is completing a six-year deal with an annual average value of $4.75 million. He’ll probably want something close to $6 million per season.

The Hurricanes could re-sign Trocheck but they might also seek a more consistent option through trade or free agency. Trocheck won’t be back if they acquire a second-line center before free agency opens on July 13.

LATEST CAPITALS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Andrew Gillis recently listed the health of key players such as Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson among the big three questions facing the Washington Capitals in the offseason. Backstrom has been troubled by a nagging left-hip injury while Wilson could miss up to the first half of next season recovering from knee surgery.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber observed the Capitals could get some cap relief for next season by placing Backstrom and Wilson on long-term injury reserve. That would free up space to add an experienced starting goalie, a reliable top-six forward or more depth at center via trade or free agency.

If Backstrom were to miss significant time, Silber pondered whether Colorado’s Nazem Kadri would be a good fit if he becomes available on the free-agent market. She acknowledged there would be a cap crunch if Backstrom returned during the season after signing a player like Kadri. Silber also suggested Avs winger Valeri Nichushkin as a possible free-agent replacement for the sidelined Wilson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom’s cap hit for next season is $9.2 million while Wilson’s is $5.16 million. That’s a big chunk of change that the Capitals could free up if necessary by placing one or both on LTIR.

Backstrom could be the more likely LTIR candidate if he’s unable to play without pain going forward. He’d be all but retired by that point, alleviating any concern about a cap crunch by bringing in a replacement this summer through trade or free agency. It would be riskier if he has a timetable to return at some point next season should he undergo another offseason surgical procedure on his hip.

For now, there’s no clarity on Backstrom’s status. The Capitals really can’t make any significant moves based on his health until they determine for certain his status for next season.